|SPEED's Kyle Petty|
The SPEED TV analyst called out the National Stock Car Racing Commission in no uncertain terms Sunday, just two days before the board is set to rule on an appeal filed by Hendrick Motorsports on behalf of its No. 48 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team, crew chief Chad Knaus and car chief Ron Malek. Speaking on the network’s NASCAR RaceDay, the former Sprint Cup Series driver called the appeals process “a crapshoot.“There are 45 members on this board (and) some of them may have passed away since their names were put in,” scoffed Petty. “That's how old these people are. These people shouldn't be judging Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus.”
A check of the records proves that all 45 panel members are, in fact, still alive. Better still, they bring hundreds of years of combined experience to the process. The panel is extremely diverse, but includes no less than 23 current or former track owner/promoters. From Mrs. Barbara Cromartie -- longtime owner of the quarter-mile Riverhead Raceway in New York -- to Joie Chitwood III -- President of the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway -- those 23 panelists contribute an intense, day-to-day knowledge of the inner workings of race promotion, track operation and rules enforcement. That kind of experience simply cannot be bought, and certainly should not be belittled.
Petty is incorrect when he calls the National Stock Car Racing Commission unqualified to rule on complex technical matters. Citizens are routinely called upon to serve as jurors in both civil and criminal trials; whether or not they have attended law school. In the NSCRC hearing room – as in our nation’s courts – complex issues can (and will) be explained to the jurors in layman’s terms, allowing them to render a fair, informed and just verdict.
“I challenge anybody out there to find me more than eight or 10 out of this 45 who have been to the race track in the last 12 to 24 months,” said Petty Sunday. “These people don't go to the race track, (and) they don't understand the process. They don't understand… where this sport is.”
|Martinsville's Clay Campbell|
While calling the commission members, “great business people... past drivers, champions, past sports car racers, past engine builders,” Petty insists, “(it) doesn't make any difference. I think (Johnson and Knaus) should be judged by their peers. In the environment we race in today, if you commit a crime or do something, you should be judged by people who understand the sport and what is going on.”
It is unknown where Petty would find these individuals, in a garage area layered with conflicts of interest. Can Steve Addington be expected to rule fairly on a dispute involving Chad Knaus, with whom he may soon be competing for the Sprint Cup Series championship? Is Jack Roush capable of putting aside his oft-stated disdain for all things Toyota in order to render an unbiased verdict in favor of a Joe Gibbs or Michael Waltrip Racing driver?
Obviously not, leaving NASCAR with little choice but to look outside the Sprint Cup garage for fair, unbiased, unaffiliated panelists.
|NASCAR Hall Of Famer Bud Moore|
Surprisingly, Petty suggests that the NSCRC appeals panel be staffed by senior NASCAR officials instead. “I think (NASCAR President Mike) Helton is a better judge of it,” said Petty. “I think (Sprint Cup Series Director) Darby is a better judge of it. I think Robin (Pemberton) is a better judge of it, because they're right in there.” Petty’s ill-conceived system would make NASCAR both prosecutor and jury in cases of alleged rule violation; a recipe for disaster in the eyes of a fan base already prone to conspiracy theories and “black helicopter” allegations.
Interestingly, Petty then questions the judgment of the same NASCAR officials he proposes adding to the National Stock Car Racing Commission. “I don't think the fine or what they've done to Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus is anywhere near legit,” he said. “It's total B.S. They never should have fined them, because the car never made it onto the race track.”
Petty can be forgiven for seeing things from a competitor’s point of view. After all, he used to be one. However, the “never made it to the race track” defense has been tried – and rejected – numerous times in the past. Pre-race inspection is not a dress rehearsal; an opportunity for creative crew chiefs to run their new ideas past inspectors in search of NASCAR approval. That process takes place during the week at NASCAR’s Concord, NC, Research and Development Center, not at the race track on Friday afternoon.
NASCAR competitors know full-well that when they present a car for pre-qualifying inspection, it has to be 100-percent right, every single time.
Kyle Petty is a passionate, valuable member of the NASCAR family, and should be applauded for attempting to improve the appeals process. His criticism of commission members is unwarranted, however, and his solutions are ill-conceived.
Editor’s Note: Here is a complete listing of the 45-member National Stock Car Racing Commission.
Ed Bennett – Appellate AdministratorMark Arute -- President of Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway
Bill Lester – Former road racing champion and Camping World Truck Series driver.
Janet Guthrie – Former NASCAR Cup Series and Indianapolis 500 driver.
John Bishop -- Founder, International Motor Sport Assoctaion (IMSA)
Buddy Baker – 19-time NASCAR Cup Series winner, voted one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers.
Barbara Cromarty – Owner, Riverhead (NY) Raceway
Bud Moore – Former NASCAR team owner, member of NASCAR’s Hall Of Fame.
Clay Campbell – President, Martinsville Speedway
Joie Chitwood – President, Daytona International Speedway
Shawna Robinson – Former NASCAR Cup Series driver.
Doug Fritz – Former President, Richmond International Raceway
Buddy Parrott – Won 49 races as a NASCAR Cup Series crew chief.
Lyn St. James – Former road racer and Indianapolis 500 driver.
Stan Lasky – Promoter, Motordrome (PA) Speedway
Jack Housby -- President, Housby Trucking
H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler, Jr. – Former President, Charlotte Motor Speedway
Robert Pressley – Promoter, Kingsport TN Speedway. Former NASCAR Cup Series driver.
Waddell Wilson – Three-time Daytona 500 winning crew chief and engine builder.
Leo Mehl -- Former Director, Goodyear racing; former Executive Director, Indy Racing League
Grant Lynch – President, Talladega Superspeedway
David Hall -- Former co-founder/president Country Music Television (CMT)
Jay Signore – Former owner, International Race of Champions (IROC)
Dale Pinilis – Promoter, Bowman-Gray (NC) Stadium
Kevin Whitaker – Promoter, Greenville Pickens (SC) Speedway
Russell Hackett – Owner, Carraway (NC) Speedway
John Capels – Chairman, United State Auto Club (USAC)
Denis McGlynn – President/CEO, Dover Motorsports
Jim Williams – Former President, Toyota Raceway at Irwindale (CA)
Jo DeWitt Wilson -- Former President, North Carolina Speedway
Cathy Rice – General Manager, South Boston (VA) Speedway
Bill Mullis – Owner, Langley (VA) Speedway
Ken Clapp – Former owner/promoter Infineon (CA) Raceway
Robert Yates – Winning NASCAR Cup Series engine builder, crew chief and team owner.
John White – Owner, Spencer (NY) Speedway
Hurley Haywood – Legendary road racer, Rolex 24 at Daytona and 24 Hours of Lemans winner.
Steve Page – President, Infineon (CA) Raceway
Jeff Belskus – President/CEO, Hulman & Company. (Owners of Indianapolis Motor Speedway)
Steve Lewis – Multi-time USAC National Midget Series championship owner
Lee Baumgarten -- Director of Operations, Phoenix International Raceway
Richard Gore – Owner, Old Dominion (Va.) Speedway
John Horton – President and Founder of LegitScript.com
Three additional members of the panel – Christiane Ayotte, Dr. Robert L. DuPont and Laurel Farrell -- have expertise in doping, substance abuse and its associated testing, and may be called upon by the sanctioning body to hear testimony in cases involving those topics.